This home and site in San Francisco entailed additions and complete renovations at all levels and the property. The city designated the original house historically significant, meaning that the exterior was required to remain similar to the original but could deviate. Originally built in 1926, the style is that of an Italian Villa; the renovated home’s exterior would refer to that, while the interior could be modern, establishing a conceptual counterpoint. The facade is now carefully designed as a composition with depth and an architectural variation of arches, vertical lines, horizontal elements, and proportions akin to historic buildings. New steel windows similar to the originals were designed, roof overhangs to create shadow lines were re-established, copper gutters and downspouts composed, and façade lanterns were sourced. Integral color plaster with stone windowsills and trim cover all walls. The ironwork in various locations was designed to be similar to the house’s past but with cleaner lines. The owner’s aspirations were that the home would be family-friendly, excellent for entertaining, and a peaceful retreat that would be luxurious without being lavish.
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International Interior Design Awards 2021
Sea Cliff Residence
Residential Interior Built
Cass Calder Smith Architecture + Interiors
Cass Smith, Barbara Turpin-Vickroy, Nathan Reed, Björn Steudte, Evelyn Murphy
San Francisco, CA
©Cass Calder Smith Architecture + Interiors
The original house was three stories but was raised one level with the fourth added at the bottom, which is now the garage and mechanical floor resulting in 10,000 square feet. The rear façade with limestone terraces and a new yard aims directly towards the panoramic, beautiful, and calming views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands. The house enters from the east yard, which cascades up from the front yard, resulting in an intentional ascent from the sidewalk’s entry gate to the front door, resulting in the main entry. This vertical space plays off the four horizontal floors with north views and south light.
Most villas have grand multi-level entrances with dramatic stairs; this inspired our design as a flowing elliptical open space, central stairs, and large skylight to render natural light. The shape is reminiscent of baroque curves and forms but wholly modernized. It’s a sculpture unto itself. The stairs have open risers and concealed supports made of bleached walnut allowing views through them, bringing light down into the lower floors. At the entry-level, which is the third floor, are the rooms for daily living. The centralized stair creates an open plan and a donut-shaped contiguous set of rooms, the living and dining rooms on the north side, with the water views extending out to limestone terraces and indoor-outdoor flow. Floors are bleached walnut in a chevron pattern. All doors and windows have custom steel frames with thin dividers, slightly traditional, while clean and contemporary at the same time. Along the south side is the library, which overlooks the front yard, the street, and receives bright southern light. The wood floor extends to meet the bookshelves in blue lacquer. The kitchen is spatially contiguous yet notably distinctive. The floors are contrasting patterned stone, cabinets are white lacquer, and the counters are Calacatta Oro marble slab.
The remaining floors are less open and more family-specific. Floor two, beneath the entry, has a home office with a lounge, extending to the rear yard, and the billiard room and gym, both with steel-framed glass walls allowing light to reach into them from the yard. At the other end is the kid’s club and a guest suite. The fourth and top floor is zoned so that the master suite is at the north with the water views and a private terrace, while the kid’s rooms are on the south and west with more natural light.
The design started before construction and was then completed during construction, with all details, materials, and specifications completed as part of our scope. There was a meticulous collaboration with the contractor and the specialized subcontractors. The team at Cass Calder Smith performed all architecture, interior design, and furniture specifications.
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